Michael Nowak, music director of California’s San Luis Obispo Symphony, portrays a conductor at The Juilliard School in The Soloist, the film about real-life musician Nathaniel Anthony Ayers that opens in theaters on April 24. Nowak has conducted in hundreds of films for the Los Angeles film industry over the last 30 years, including Under the Tuscan Sun, Bobby, American Gangster and The Kite Runner, but The Soloist represents his first onscreen appearance in a major motion picture. The film tells the story of the friendship between Los Angeles Times reporter Steve Lopez and Ayers, who studied double bass at Juilliard in the 1970s but left after developing schizophrenia and wound up homeless on Skid Row in Los Angeles. In the film Ayers is depicted by Jamie Foxx, and Robert Downey Jr. portrays Lopez, who wrote the book about Ayers on which the movie is based. Also performing in the movie is the Los Angeles Philharmonic under Music Director Esa-Pekka Salonen, shown in rehearsals and performances at Walt Disney Concert Hall, with Foxx (as Ayers) in attendance. 

Posted April 21, 2009

Photo of Michael Nowak by Thomas L. Miller